Use of a Candler

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When the embryo is ¾ through its incubation, it may be detected by shining the light into the air space and observing for motion against the air sac membrane. The embryo is not always moving but this activity will increase and be easier to detect closer to the piping date.

If no development is observed after 2 weeks of incubation the egg should be removed and broken to see if any blood rings or dead embryos can be found. A blood ring is left when an embryo dies very early in development and the extra embryonic blood vessels have continued to move down the yolk membrane. Once eggs have piped naturally they should be transported to a Hatcher that has a much higher humidity and slightly lower temperature than the incubator. The actual hatching will take about 2 days. Once hatched, the never ending task of feeding a blind, helpless check begins, with you as the designated parent!

Use of a Candler can also tell you if the air pocket is in the wrong position (on the bottom or side of egg). If it is, you may need to assist the chick to hatch. Many times a chick cannot hatch if it is in the wrong position inside the egg. If an egg is fertile but has not hatched, candling the egg will tell you if the embryo is still alive and moving. Some breeding have been in the business for so long that they have gained enough experience to be able to do this pretty accurately without a probed light.

If you observe a chick that has piped but not rotated, it can still be saved, although it is a delicate and risky business. This usually occurs when the humidity is too low during incubation, resulting in excessive water loss. This in turn results in lack of proper lubrication of the membranes surrounding the chick. After the eggs have hatched, they are guarded closely by both parents. The babies are born with a very soft, light yellow down sparsely covering their bodies, which eventually turn into green pinfeathers with blue highlights as the babies mature.

Babies that have become fully feathered (approximately 8 weeks of age) look almost exactly as they will for the rest of their lives. We normally pull baby Quakers from the nest when they are approximately 2 weeks old right as their eyes are beginning, to open and raise them together in aquariums. I used to install a grill in the bottom of every aquarium constructed of ½” x 1” hardware cloth (cage material) with the edges bent over 1” so that it fits right down into the bottom of the aquarium snugly. This produces a 1” raised platform that prevents the babies from becoming straddle-legged as they grow and reduces contamination resulting from direct contact with their droppings. It also gives them a head start on grasping with their feet to maintain balance.

Another solution is to place shredded wood shavings in the bottom of the container or attach small perches connected to suction cups on the sides of the aquarium to give them a sort of foothold. Young babies may occasionally eat the wood shavings in the bottom of the containers, as well as other non paper material used for bedding, particularly if they are hungry and no grill is used to keep them off the bottom. Unfortunately ingestion of this material can lead to internal obstructions and other serious problems, which is why I provided a grill.


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